There are 4 valves in your heart which act like doors to control the blood flow between the different parts of the heart. Valve problems can occur due to congenital abnormalities (present at birth), or they can develop later in life as a result of infections and degeneration (wear and tear). The affected valves can be repaired or replaced through heart valve surgery.
Valve repair consists of fixing the damaged valve without the use of artificial parts as much as possible. If all efforts to repair the abnormal valve fail, your surgeon will replace the valve during the same procedure.
The valve can be replaced using artificial valves (made of plastic or metal), or bioprosthetic valves (made of biological material from animal tissue), or an allograft valve (human valve tissue).
During heart valve surgery, a cut down the middle of the chest is made and the breastbone is separated. Your surgeon will assess whether this procedure or a less invasive key-hole surgery (which allows the valve repair and replacement to be done through small cuts), is more suitable for you.